Falling Skies: Season 1, Episode 1

Live and Learn (19 Jun. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 776 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 8 critic

The world is left in tatters after a sudden, unprovoked and unexplained invasion by aliens, leaving the planet's remaining human population to fight for survival against the occupiers. ... See full summary »

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Title: Live and Learn (19 Jun 2011)

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Storyline

The world is left in tatters after a sudden, unprovoked and unexplained invasion by aliens, leaving the planet's remaining human population to fight for survival against the occupiers. History professor Tom Mason has been named second in command for the 2nd Mass, but his real focus is on his three sons, one of whom has been captured by the aliens for an unknown purpose. Written by TNT Publicity

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19 June 2011 (USA)  »

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Trivia

At the beginning of the Pilot, humans are engaged in active battle with Skitters and Mechs. At one point, during a human partial retreat, one young woman runs full tilt at the fighters, yelling: "South Boston! South Boston! They've just taken South Boston!". South Boston contains Dorchester Heights, where George Washington forced British troops to evacuate during the American Revolutionary War. So this would indicate a serious conquest for the aliens - taking a section of human real estate with such distinct historical value. See more »

Goofs

Weaver and at least one other person call South Boston "South Boston". Most Massachusetts residents would call it "Southie." See more »

Quotes

Matt Mason: I was in school when the ships came. They were really big, and they said that we weren't gonna attack them with the nuclear bombs, because they might have wanted to be friends. But they didn't want to be friends... not at all.
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Connections

References Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) See more »

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End Credits Theme
(uncredited)
Performed by Falling Skies Orchestra
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User Reviews

 
Refreshing education but by the book alien invasion, poor creativity and average viewer-friendly sci-fi
22 June 2011 | by (France) – See all my reviews

Note : This is a review of the premiere, Live and Learn followed by The Armory.

The series premiering the same night as Game of Thrones finale sounded like the worst idea but when you have Steven Spielberg as executive producer and Noah Wyle as lead you tend to get some attention. Still from space, where the audience of George R. R. Martin's novel masterful adaptation has been teleported, the pitch of an other alien invasion didn't seem like the ultimate saler. An Independence Day and Survivors (2008) cross-over ? That's how I considered Falling Skies before its premiere and now that I have seen it well the show is not really more than that.

Because of its survivalism theme the comparison with other productions like Jericho, Invasion (2005), V and even The Walking Dead is inevitable. It wouldn't be a weakness if the show had more to offer but the refreshing ideas that were injected into it aren't numerous. The first would be its protagonist, portrayed by Wyle, an American history professor named Tom Mason. It has potential but for the moment his knowledge was mostly pictured as a running gag. However the analogy between their situation, humans invaded by aliens, and the blood bath that represents America's birth, natives invaded by Europeans – and other great civilizations by extension like Roman for instance. But that's it. A second idea ? There're dozens of them but none surprised me and in general the story really felt like déjà vu. From concepts borrowed from The Puppet Masters (Robert A. Heinlein) and RoboCop to clichés like the hot female doctor and Mad Max mercenaries the unoriginality list is desperately long.

As for the rest we have the usual mix of pros and cons such by the book productions are used to. Yes because that's what happens when you decide to sacrifice creativity and sweet sci-fi to widen your target. At first the military guy reminded me of Avatar, and that's clearly an insult, but thankfully his profile is not all black and it seems the diversity of the cast and other characters contributed to make him more interesting. And other element I enjoyed was the educative arc. Kids go to school and Tom is not the only teacher at resistance camp. Indeed his little chat with a biologist was quite intriguing and should make you wonder about the true origin and nature of the aliens and their metal minions. Actually I couldn't help thinking about Battlestar Galactica even if the universes don't have much in common. Still it was just the excuse I needed to give the show one more chance. If you spot it you should also be moved by an elegant reference to Wyle's filmography. However the episode format worries me because the second part, The Armory, was barely entertaining and his script seemed copied and pasted from the other creations I have already mentioned and the dozens of others you probably have seen or read. Last but not least the production was only good when I was expecting some jaw dropping scenes. I also noticed how cheap some matte paintings looked compared to the CG creatures. In fact considering how video games like Killzone are impressive it's getting really difficult to impress anyone on TV these days with just a bunch of visual effects.

Add conventional arcs like a son to rescue (Survivors), the inevitable love stories or triangles and what seemed to be a plot hole regarding Margaret (Sarah Carter, the pretty blonde next door)… well I can't just list them all ! The idea is that if extra-televisual objects like Lost and Fringe's season 3 convinced you that TV should all be about creative, mind blowing and smart entertainment then Falling Skies can only disappoint you. It has some undeniable qualities but considering Spielberg's pedigree I was expecting the master to open the gate to a new Close Encounters of the Third Kind.


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